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Citizens living in other parts of nation besides Delhi-NCR also have fundamental right to pollution free environment: SC

The Supreme Court has said that citizens living in other parts of the country besides Delhi-NCR also have a fundamental right to a pollution free environment as guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

New Delhi, January 13,2024:  The Supreme Court has said that citizens living in other parts of the country besides Delhi-NCR also have a fundamental right to a pollution free environment as guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

A bench of Justices Abhay S. Oka and Pankaj Mithal said that it was “totally unjustified and unwarranted” for the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to observe that there is an option to “control the pollution in Delhi-NCR” by diverting entry of diesel vehicles to any other ICD (Inland Container Depot) around Delhi.

The bench said that the NGT while safeguarding the fundamental right of the people of Delhi-NCR cannot allow infringement of the same right of the citizens living outside.

In its impugned order, the NGT had observed that there was an option to restrict the entry of diesel vehicles at Tughlakabad ICDs by diverting those vehicles to the ICDs at Dadri, Rewari, Ballabhgarh, Khatuawas or any other ICD around Delhi so as to control the pollution in Delhi-NCR.

The apex court said: “Such an observation by the NGT is in complete ignorance of the fact that citizens living in other parts of the country other than Delhi NCR also have a fundamental right to a pollution free environment as guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Such a fundamental right is equally enforceable by all and is not confined to the people of Delhi NCR.”

It also issued a series of directions to the Union government and asked the Centre to formulate a policy of phasing out heavy duty diesel vehicles and replacing them with BS VI vehicles.

“The Union of India shall formulate appropriate policy on this behalf within six months from today,” it said in an order passed on Thursday.

The apex court said that the process of exploring the possibility of finding better sources for the use of heavy duty vehicles shall continue and listed the matter on July 31 for reporting compliance.

An ICD is a facility created in an inland part which serves as a containerised cargo handling hub for imports and exports of the region.

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